They have had the farewell party but the changing of the signs on the PCC office door for its successor, IPSO, is going to be delayed.
In a Press Notice issued today, Sir Hayden Phillips, Chair of the IPSO Appointments panel, said that they expected to appoint a Chair by the beginning of May, and:
“Once appointed, the Chair will join my Appointments Panel to select the rest of the Board, with a view to having IPSO up and running in early June.”
As Sir Hayden candidly admitted, this is “a little later than the May 1st start date originally envisaged”. The delay is, apparently, due to the “large number of applications”.
This is curious. Just two months ago, on 30 January 2014, the PCC Chairman, Lord Hunt told MPs that the industry was:
“confident that the necessary funding and coverage is in place to enable IPSO to commence operations on the target date of the 1st of May this year.”
“The two processes of legal implementation and independent appointments procedures should be completed to allow IPSO to begin work early in the new year.”
They are reported to be offering £1,000 a day to Board Members and £150,000 a year to the chair – all with a view to inducing people to defy the views of victims, the public and Parliament and to ignore the recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson.
According to Sir Hayden’s report, this generosity has left him with an embarrassment of riches. The flood of applications, he says, is proving difficult to process.
Perhaps. But it is worth remembering that this is only the latest stage in over a year’s manoeuvring behind closed doors by the big newspaper groups, involving three characteristically obscure bodies.
1. The “Industry Implementation Group” – Chair, Paul Vickers of Trinity Mirror, process of selection and membership, unknown. This drew up the “draft constitutional documents” for setting up IPSO (published in July 2013).
2. The “Foundation Group” – appointed by the “Industry Implementation Group”, process of appointment, unknown. Chair former judge, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, members Trevor Kavanagh, the Sun columnist and former political editor; Dame Sue Tinson, a former editor of News at Ten; Lord Chris Smith, the former Labour culture secretary; and Simon Jenkins, the Guardian columnist and former Times editor.
3. The “Appointments Panel” – appointed by the Foundation Group, process of appointment, unknown. Chaired by former civil servant, Sir Hayden Phillips (no relation), members (announced January 2014), Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood (a former Justice of the Supreme Court), Paul Horrocks (former Editor in Chief of the Manchester Evening News and former member of the PCC), Dame Denise Platt (former Chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection) and John Witherow (the Editor of The Times and former editor of the Sunday Times).
Along the way, the big companies found it necessary to bend the rules in a covert manner. Having proudly and publicly announced an appointments procedure that stressed ‘openness’, they then found that openness was inconvenient and discreetly changed their own rules to drop ‘openness’.
This permitted them to carry on behind closed doors. Sir Hayden Phillips and his colleagues are apparently not in the least embarrassed by this.
When IPSO eventually begins operation it will employ the same secretariat as the PCC and, it appears, will operate from the same offices, which will be run by a company with the same company number and the same directors. It has the same flaws as the PCC, and will be seen by the public as no better.